There are hundreds of chicken breeds, but only two large categories.
“Large breed” chickens are what most people think of when they think “chicken.”
“Bantam” chickens—aka banties—are essentially miniature chickens, much smaller than large breeds.
They have some commonalities and many differences.
So which type is better? That’s up to you, depending on what you want from your flock. To help you decide, here’s a run down of the pros and cons of each.
Large breeds are, well, large. Most breeds top out at 4-7 lbs. Some popular breeds include Rhode Island Reds, Barred Plymouth Rocks, and my favorite, Buff Orpingtons. This means they eat more than banties, so the feed cost is a little higher.
Banties are at least half as small as the normal large breed, some as small as a pigeon. They don’t eat as much so you’ll save on the feed bill.
Because of their smaller size, you’ll probably need smaller openings in the wire of your run so your banties don’t slip out. The smaller the openings, the more the wire will cost.
Size also matters if you plan to butcher your chickens for meat. Only large breeds will do for this. Don’t bother with banties when it comes to meat. By the way, I wrote an article about what I learned butchering my own chickens.
Large breeds lay the eggs you are used to, like in the grocery. While large breed eggs vary in size, you can make a two-egg omelet out of them and not go hungry.
Banty eggs are tiny. It takes about three of their eggs to equal one large breed. Tiny omelets.
Like any animal, chicken temperaments are all over the board. However, in my experience, large breeds tend to be more docile and compliant (Except roosters. They’re all mean.)
Bantams are less domesticated than large breeds, which means they are more wild. When I kept banties, they wanted to sleep in the trees, they jumped the fence, and I’ve never seen chickens fight more or more savagely.
While there are some ornate large breeds, bantams steal the show when it comes to variety and beauty. If you want weird and wacky chickens to look at, try some banties.
What kind do you prefer, HomeDabbler?
You may have guessed, but I’m a large breed guy all the way. I want docile, well-behaved birds that lay big eggs. We definitely went through our banty phase, but grew out of it.
I know chicken raisers who only have banties. Like I said, it depends on what you want out of your flock (here’s an article to help you decide).
Either way, I recommend you try both at first to see what suits you. If you need more chicken help, read the articles on my Chicken page. If you have questions, either comment on this post or message me anytime through the HomeDabbler Facebook page.
Mostly, have fun!